Roger Forster, is co-founder and co-leader of the London-based Ichthus Christian Fellowship with his wife, Faith Forster. Approximately 130 other churches and movements in the UK and Europe are linked with Ichthus Christian Fellowship. Roger Forster answered some questions in an interview with Paul Veitch from the Jesus Fellowship.
Should Christians be involved in politics?
Of course, there is always the danger that we compromise our standards. Because of this, some Christians dismiss the whole world of politics as something they should not be involved with. Sometimes, though, obeying Jesus’ command to love our neighbour means it is important for us to take a stand with or against the powers that be. We can serve our fellow humans by supporting good governance and backing people in high positions. However, we must guard our hearts – we must trust in God, not man – as the Bible says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God”. (Psalm 20:7) The field of politics is a suitable place for believers to do things and take action – especially in local government – such involvement can open lots of doors. When we do, we can’t get everything we want – but maybe we’ll get half. We can be good neighbours.
At this moment in time, there are more Christians in politics than ever before. Christian nominalism has declined; once everyone was considered a Christian unless they declared otherwise; now we are freer to declare our unique Christian viewpoint and commend the gospel.
In terms of the gospel, what’s changed in the UK since 2000? Do you notice any new trends?
Up until 2000, we organised national marches for Jesus in the UK. Around this time, sadly, our use of the cutting edge of the gospel went downhill. This has often been because of the fear of being politically incorrect and being targeted. Some have thought, “I won’t talk about it – I’ll just do good works”. However, recently, in 2015, there has been a new trend; some are “coming out of the woodwork” and are talking about the gospel again. This change is noticeable in parliament: in the ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ debate Jesus was spoken about openly. That probably wouldn’t have happened ten years ago.
Christians are working together more and are more willing to listen to each other. It’s easier to work together in social action projects as we don’t contradict each other. Some of us have begun to engage together in gospel proclamation.
On a wider, national level, atheists are becoming more militant. Science has shown that the statistical possibility of a world coming into being like ours, with its balance of elements, is infinitesimal. The idea of chance is ridiculous. Design is the only solution. Many non-Christian scientists are taking this stand. The facts have driven them there. Atheists are not winning the argument – Christians are – a lot of people are sick of atheistic arguments too. We lost this battle a hundred years ago but are now winning it back. This makes the atheists more vociferous and shout louder.
What would add strength to the church at this time?
In the UK, the unrighteousness inside and outside the church is absolutely dismaying. We must show the church is serious about holiness and our ecumenical networking is producing Christ-likeness in our converts and believers. I would like to see holiness back on the agenda: godly living, thinking, and feeling. It is heart-rending when the church is as bad as the world. We need a campaign to make holiness popular!
The best thing for turning our country upside-down is having leaders like Evan Roberts who led the Welsh Revival, or possessing the spirit of those who were part of the Azusa Street revival in the United States; we need to learn to pray. These people were flat on their faces, fasting and seeking God and the spiritual atmosphere of the places in which they lived were changed. At the time of the Azusa Street outpouring of the Holy Spirit, people could sense the love of God in the atmosphere one quarter of a mile away. We need that sort of Christianity.
We need the supernatural. Supernatural healings wake people up! We need to see more supernatural deliverance and spiritual warfare – we need to learn to be strong in our fight against the spiritual powers, to use the spiritual weapons God has given us and the name of the Lord; we need to fight back and push these dark forces off. Often our prayer life is very shallow.
Often there is no real pastoral input when people get converted: all that is given is a quick fix and new Christians don’t have their issues, their hurts dealt with. All these things must be sorted if we are to grow into Christlikeness character and it requires a lot of time.
Recently the Evangelical Alliance conducted a survey: the result was that congregations said that most of all they needed pastoring – pastors to love them into health. In the survey, pastors, on the other hand, said that what was most needed was Bible teaching.
Have you got a final word?
Keep going and do not get caught up in easy-going kind of Christianity – that seeks prosperity and wants to please everyone – we’re not here to please everyone but to please God. Go for it and don’t give up.